In the context of the Government’s 5 year ‘Climate Ready’ initiative (designed to help Irish businesses respond to the climate emergency) here is a look at some of the potential areas for Green Economy growth and the current skills situation in those areas.

Construction Employment: Major expansion of employment numbers by 2030 not expected but sectoral tasks are likely to undergo fairly radical change, in large part due to green construction and climate change mitigation. For example:

Moneypoint Power Station Restructuring. The building of a major offshore wind farm and a green hydrogen production facility will turn it into a key renewable energy base. 80 people are currently employed but the job projections for the facility are likely to grow over a number of years.

Kingspan’s Long Term Commitment To The Procurement Of H2 Green Steel. This will substantially cut its carbon emissions. The pioneering new green production process replaces coke and coal with green hydrogen to achieve an almost a totally CO2-free steel product. Steel accounts for 7 per cent of emissions emitted globally.

 Other Craft Occupations Employment: Numbers stable for last five years but motor mechanics, electricians etc are facing a small decline. This represents a good time to retrain / reskill in the area of electric cars. 20% of all new cars sales in Ireland over the next five years need to be electric vehicles to hit our climate change targets.

Ireland An Electric Car-Making Hub? Entrepreneur Norman Crowley plans to produce an ultra-high performance electric supercar in Wicklow in 2022 and plans to convert older, classic models to electric power in the near future. He states “our conversions are sold out to 2023, so there’s clearly monster demand for it. We’ll slowly move into what you might call ‘regular’ vehicles, but it’ll take a while”, adding that “If you look at what the new automotive world is, it’s much more analogous to software than it is to traditional vehicle manufacturing… and if Ireland doesn’t jump on this opportunity, then we’re going to miss one of the biggest waves that’s going to happen over the next decade.”

 Agriculture & Animal Care Employment: Numbers in decline in recent years with this trend expected to continue – related to the demographic effect of 58% of farmers being aged 55 years+ & the number of managers/ farmers aged under 25 being too low to report. Big skills gap in this area. General Work Permits granted increased over 66% for agriculture, forestry & fishing sector, horticulture workers, meat processing operatives & dairy farm assistants, probably due to the low rates of pay attached.

Farming & The Growing Use Of Automation. Satellites, drones & robots are increasingly being used to identify crop health, soil conditions, precision pathways for tillage, planting & harvesting and milking and weeding organic crops. Greenhouse farming may increase in the future as it lends itself to a more favourable environment for robots to work in. As too may Vertical farming which can reduce water consumption by 95% in some cases. Vertical crop farming is appearing directly in supermarkets. Several European stores are using the technology to grow lettuce, chard and herbs in the customer aisles. 

Ag Climatise Strategy. Europe aims to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. In response, the Government’s ‘Ag Climatise’ Strategy sets out how the Irish agri-food sector can achieve climate-neutrality but it warns it “will require substantial change in how we farm and fish, manage our forests and how we process, distribute and consume food and bio-based products”. The strategy also recognises the sector needs to become a world leader in sustainability to remain competitive. In that light, a developing “Carbon-farming” policy could offer a new source of income for farmers; plus there are plans to increase insight, innovation and product differentiation in food and to develop market opportunities at home and abroad for these products.

Further Reading:

To read Solas’ National Skills Bulletin 2021 in full click here.

To read the full Irish Times article on the ‘Climate Ready’ initiative click here.

To read the full Irish Times article on MoneyPoint Power Station click here.

To read the full Irish Times article on Kingspan click here.

To read the full Irish Times article on Electric Car Production In Wicklow click here.

To read the full Irish Times article on Farming & Automation click here.

To read the full Irish Times article on the ‘Ag Climatise’ Strategy click here.






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